The fourth round of the World Endurance Championship takes place this weekend and that round just so happens to be the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one-third of the coveted ‘Triple Crown’ of motorsport alongside the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500.
By Richard Smyth
While many of the drivers taking part have reached the pinnacle of their racing career, there are several drivers that we frequently see in single-seater feeder series taking part in this weekend’s race.
Franco Colapinto (FRECA) – LMP2
It has been a really busy year so far for the 18-year-old Argentinian driver who will be taking part in his fourth different racing series this season.
He is best known to feeder series fans as an MP Motorsport driver in the Formula Regional European Championship (FRECA) and while he has withdrawn from two weekends so far this season, he currently finds himself 12th in the standings.
In 2021 he also started competing in endurance racing as part of the European Le Mans Series and is already a race winner after his G-Drive Racing LMP2 car took victory at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France.
He also finished third in the Asian Le Mans Series, with his team claiming three podiums across the four races.
He will drive the #26 G-Drive Racing car alongside Roman Rusinov, competing under the Russian Federation flag and the 2019 Formula 2 Champion and recently crowned Formula E World Champion, Nyck de Vries.
Beitske Visser (W Series) – LMP2
Our second feeder series driver that is racing in the LMP2 category is 26-year-old Dutch driver Beitske Visser, who is making her second appearance at the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
After finishing 9th in her class in last year’s race and 13th overall she will be hoping that the all-female line-up will impress once again his time around.
She will be partnered with former Formula 2 and current Alfa Romeo F1 test driver Tatiana Calderón, along with former Formula 3 driver Sophia Flörsch for the Richard Mille Racing Team.
Visser is currently 9th in the W Series standings after a sixth-place finish at Silverstone and a fifth-place finish in Hungary.
This weekend will see her take part in her fourth race of the season in the World Endurance Championship with the best finish so far being sixth place at the 8 Hours of Portimão.
Kamui Kobayashi (Super Formula) – Hypercar
Kamui Kobayashi is one of the most experienced endurance drivers on the 2021 grid and goes into the race as one of the favourites to take the overall race win this year. He will be driving for Toyota Gazoo Racing and there will be a real battle between their #7 and #8 entries for the overall race win, with only three other entries in the hypercar class this year.
He will be joined in the #7 entry by 2004 Formula Renault UK Champion and 2006 Macau Grand Prix winner Mike Conway, along with former GP2 driver José María López.
Despite being 34 years old, he still frequently competes in single-seater feeder series races and Super Formula is where he has been applying his trade over the past few years.
Despite there being four rounds of the Super Formula season completed so far, it is still not yet announced which rounds Kobayashi will take part in as he has missed the opening four races of the season
Kazuki Nakajima (Super Formula) – Hypercar
There isn’t just one Super Formula driver who previously raced in Formula 1 racing for Toyota Gazoo Racing in the hypercar class this year…there’s two.
Kazuki Nakajima will race in the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing entry alongside former GP2 driver and Formula E Champion, Sébastien Buemi, along with 2007 Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 Champion and former Formula One driver Brendon Hartley.
He is already a three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, taking victory in the previous three outings with Hartley replacing Fernando Alonso for the most recent edition of the historic race.
Nakajima currently finds himself 18th in the driver standings of the 2021 Super Formula Championship but has only competed in the opening round of the season at the Fuji Speedway. He finished that race in 11th place, failing to score any points.
Tatiana Calderon (Super Formula) – LMP2
Calderon makes up one third of the all-female Richard Mille Racing Team entry alongside former Formula 3 driver Sophia Flörsch and W Series driver Beitske Visser.
She is currently racing in Super Formula and finds herself 21st in the driver standings, but only competed in the opening two rounds of the season. She failed to score points in either of her two races after a 13th place finish at the Fuji Speedway and a 17th place finish at Suzuka.
Calderon is currently a test driver for the Alfa Romeo Formula One team and previously raced in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2019, along with GP3 and European F3 before that.
The 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans will be her second appearance in the race and her fourth race of the season in the World Endurance Championship.
Yifei Ye (Reigning Euroformula Open Champion) – LMP2
He might not exactly be a feeder series driver this season, but we can’t leave the reigning Euroformula Open Champion out.
After winning the 2020 Euroformula Open title ahead of Lukas Dunner by 121 points, he will be driving for Team WRT in this year’s race.
He will be joined by former Formula One driver and 2005 Formula Renault 3.5 Champion, Robert Kubica, along with former Formula 2 driver and 2015 Formula Renault 2.0 NEC Champion Louis Delétraz.
Ye is taking part in the European Le Mans series in 2021 and is currently leading the championship standings with two wins from the opening four races. He also won the Asian Le Mans Series with G-Drive Racing at the start of 2021 with René Binder and Ferdinand von Habsburg as his teammates.
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